Davao City is known for a lot of things, but its long and appetizing array of street foods will capture the hearts of non-locals like nothing else would. Whether you’re looking for a quick treat for your tummy or a filling, energizing meal, you need not look farther than the city’s very own streets.
Snacks In Davao
If you’re thinking sweets, kamote-cue, banana-cue and turon have got to be on top of your list. Kamote is sweet potato in Filipino and kamote-cue is sweet potato sliced into chunks, coated with caramel syrup, fried and skewered with bamboo sticks. Banana-cue is the banana (plantain variety) version of this favorite Davao street food that is just as popular, while turon is also made banana cut lengthwise for faster cooking, wrapped in lumpia wrapper ala spring roll and deep-fried.Fishballs are another street food favorite among those who want a tasty snack mid-afternoon or practically any time of day. Fishballs are fried, skewered with bamboo sticks and dipped into a sweet, sweet and sour or spicy sauce. Of course, there’s the foreign-inspired line-up of takoyaki or Japanese squid balls, maki or steamed sushi rice with toppings wrapped with nori which is a type of edible seaweed, and the dimsums including siopao or steamed buns, siomai, etc.
If you’re looking for something to cool off the heat, iskrambol is a good choice. Iskrambol is Filipino for Scramble, a cheap dessert made of shaved ice, diced colored gelatin and condensed milk all mixed together with an egg beater and topped with chocolate syrup. Taho, which is made of fluffy, silky tofu, arnibal or brown sugar in vanilla syrup and pearl sago (like pearl tapioca,) is another must-taste in Davao, but you will usually find it only the morning.
Meals Of Davao
Street food in Davao is also great for quieting a tummy that craves a full meal. Blame it on Filipino ingenuity, anyone can make a nice, appetizing dish out of the most unimaginable animal body parts. Take for example, proben, the colloquial term for chicken proventriculus fried and dipped into a sauce of vinegar, chopped onions and other spices. With puso or steamed rice wrapped in interlaced banana leaf strips, you have a meal that is satiating enough for most.
Chicken intestines or isaw is also a hit among locals. Like proben, it can be fried or barbecued, dipped in the same vinegar-based sauce and eaten as a mid-afternoon snack or as a viand to go with puso. Some vendors sell pig intestines which are slightly larger and more filling for some people. For a little gastronomic adventure, try adidas, or barbecued chicken feet tenderized by boiling prior to grilling. Of course, that also goes perfect with puso.
If you want to try something new, there’s betamax, although it’s not exactly new by local standards. Betamax is a local term given to curdled chicken or pig blood that has been brought to a boil with some spices, soy sauce and vinegar, cubed and skewered with bamboo. It is usually dipped in vinegar with ground pepper and minced onions, although some like to eat it with sweet and sour sauce. The street food resembles a betamax tape, hence its name.
Street food in Davao is not only mouthwatering, but certifiably cheap as well. With under Php 30 for a meal, don’t be surprised to realize that it’s not much of an effort to live cheap in the city. There’s always food to go at a cost that is almost a giveaway, whether you’re looking to stretch your budget, or just on the hunt for some quick, inexpensive gastronomic adventures.
Cheryl Ann is a resident of Davao. She is sharing on this site her experiences, as well as give tips on how to enjoy living in Davao as a local.